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Contact: Susan McNeill

St. Mary’s County Arts Council


The Maryland State Arts Council and The St. Mary’s County Arts Council have announced that Sage Burch is the winner of the Poetry Out Loud St. Mary’s County competition that was held Jan. 16 in Cole Cinema at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Burch, who is a 10th-grader at Leonardtown High School, will now go on to compete at the Southern Maryland regional competition, which will be held at the Calvert Marine Museum on Saturday, Feb. 16, at noon. The snow date is Feb. 23.

Second place in the St. Mary’s County competition was awarded to Renae Thomas, a 10th-grader at St. Mary’s Ryken High School and third-place honors were awarded to Josh Hall, a 12th-grader at Leonardtown High School. High school students from The King’s Christian Academy, Leonardtown High School and St. Mary’s Ryken participated in the event.

The Poetry Out Loud competition, presented in partnership with the Maryland State Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Poetry Out Loud competitions follow a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a schoolwide competition, then to county, then regional then state competition and, ultimately, to the national finals in Washington, D.C. More than 365,000 students from 2,255 high schools took part in the 2010–2011 Poetry Out Loud programs.

In the competitions, contestants recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 680 classic and contemporary poems.

The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Maryland finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Maryland champion of the Poetry Out Loud will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the national finals in April. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will bestow a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.